I am reaching the point that I am almost ready to self-publish another novel. I am only 30 pages away from having Recipes for Gingerbread Children fully edited and formatted.
Do you know that feeling of dread you get when you go back to a completed manuscript that you have left in the cooler for a bit? You don’t? Is it because you have never done that? Or because you have never dreaded it? I was terrified that, as good and wonderful as I thought the story was when I wrote it, the impression was a false one based on self-delusion and narcissism. I dreamed in my nightmare about re-reading it and realizing it was total garbage and a total re-write would be necessary.
Well, I was worried about nothing. On rereading it, I discovered that the things I was sure I had messed up on were executed well. The story was precisely the way it was supposed to be after mulling it over and plotting for more than twenty years. The structure I built it on still seems to work beautifully, and the key themes are still present for the reader to interpret as he or she sees fit.
There is nudity, violence, and horror in this book, but not done in a way that leaves the wrong message in a young reader’s mind. In fact, it answers questions about life that, as a former school teacher, I strongly believe are on young people’s minds. It has characters who are nudists and want others to become nudists too. It has stories about Nazis and concentration camps. It also has fairy tales that are almost as gruesome as those of the Brothers Grimm.
The main character and focus of the story is an old German woman who is a Holocaust survivor, a story-teller, and a baker of gingerbread. The character is based on an old woman who lived in our little town when I was a boy. But though the character is inspired by a real person, the real Old German Lady was not a nudist, nor, as far as I know, a storyteller. So, most of what you learn about Gretel Stein in this story is really about a story-teller who is me. I promise, however, that I did not wear a dress at any point while researching for this book.
It will be a story about fairies fighting to have a place in the modern world though they have shrunken in importance to the size of mice and insects. It is about finding the courage within yourself necessary to survive a terrible thing like the Holocaust. It is about self-sacrifice. It is about love. It is also about baking cookies and telling stories. There’s a werewolf in it. There are also two twin sisters in it who are nudists and spend a lot of the story naked. It is about standing up for yourself and becoming the hero of your own story.
And the most exciting thing for me is, soon this book will be available from Amazon.
My goal, as I learn how to be a better self-published author, is to do all my own artwork. This is one of the advantages I have over working with the other publishers I have published books with. Page Publishing, to be fair, did use my artwork. But they also controlled the cover design (since that was what I was paying for).
Planning to publish two more novels this winter, I am working ahead to create effective covers. So let me show you how I fumbled together a cover today.
Here are the artwork elements that I started with;
I then put the elements together with a photo-editing program.
I then added the finishing touches with the paint program.
I can probably be satisfied with this result. But I am a fickle artsy-fartsy type who will probably fuss it all up well before I actually use it.
I have always thought of myself as a science fiction writer. I admit that in 2006 I realized that my province was not serious science fiction, but rather humor-driven science fiction.
In 2015 I wrote Magical Miss Morgan, a novel about being a teacher, but basically also a fairy tale. So, I guess, with fairies invading my fiction and magically taking over at least half the stories they are part of, I am turning into a fantasy humorist rather than a straight science fiction writer.
I am at the moment re-reading my novel Magical Miss Morgan for Goodreads.com now that it has reached publication in 2018. I am experiencing all the cringes and all the “oh, no!’s” of being a writer in print. You end up thinking, “How could I have been so stupid as to write THAT?” way more often than is good for your continued mental well-being. But I am also still tickled by and laughing at the best jokes and funnies in the novel, at least enough to know it is (however self-delusional it is to say this) still a good book.
But that book is not the end of the fairy invasion. Oh, no. In 2016 I wrote the book Recipes for Gingerbread Children. This book was not only about an old German woman and holocaust survivor who is a very good teller of fairy tales, but also about the fairies of Tellosia who live nearby and invisibly attend to her constantly. She even creates for them a whole race of magical gingerbread men fairies.
This book is currently a part of the Inkitt novel contest and is available to read for free on their site this month. Here is the link; Recipes for Gingerbread Children. You can actually read the whole thing, and hopefully review it to help me get the needed buzz to get it published through Inkitt.
So, why fairies? I have to admit… I don’t know. I think I have been be-spelled, bewitched, and serious glammered with pixie dust.
Last night I spent a couple of hours avoiding washing the dishes that piled up in the sink for the weekend by submitting my rough draft novel Recipes for Gingerbread Children to the Inkitt free novel contest. I am pretty sure that was a stupid thing to do. I created the above cover to complete the submission. I had previously decided by researching Inkitt that it was probably a bad idea to go for this kind of publishing scheme. I cannot afford another vanity press price. I can only manage free publishing opportunities. I am probably better off publishing through KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing).
The novel is not entirely a stand-alone. It is the companion story to The Baby Werewolfwhose climax I am working on last week and this week. It wouldn’t exist at all if it weren’t a pile of irresistible weird stuff left over from the creation of The Baby Werewolf and Superchicken. It is full of fairy tales, “real” fairies created by fairy tales, Nazis, teenage nudist girls, and a sweet old German lady who managed to survive the holocaust.
The contest will only have four winners this month, and I did not submit it until four days before the end of the month. Snowball’s chance in H-E-double-hockey-sticks, right? I cannot afford to pay them to publish it. So if it doesn’t win, I tell them no.
I mistakenly believe I am a good writer and story-teller. But that may be a totally delusional belief. I am not any good at the publishing and promoting game. I am forced to trust to luck, and am probably the unluckiest goober who ever lived.
And while I was tackling the crisis point of my horror novel last week, my Republican friends and family, rabid Trump supporters all, were on my case in social media about why I, as a former teacher, wasn’t completely on their side about making teachers with guns a line of defense against future school shootings. I have to be careful what I say and support, because a single wrong word can blow up my friends on Facebook with an incendiary display of name-calling, Fox News facts (which are pretty far removed from true facts), accusations, recriminations, and crying about my stupidity. And through it all, I am not totally convinced that the stupidity is all on my side of the word war.
So, we shall wait and see. I did a stupid thing. I said some stupid stuff. I have risked a lot on the current direction of the wind. And soon I will know if my stupidity has scuttled me, and I come crashing down in my sailboat to bottom of the sea… or if I am somehow right, and allowed, for now, to sail onward.
This is the purple-furred Mickey Icon done Don Martin-style.
If you are one of those readers who has taken to regularly reading Mickey posts on Catch a Falling Star ( a habit that is probably bad for you, but certainly not fatal), there are some things and random recent developments that you should probably be made aware of.
Mickey recently finished a rough-draft novel. After giving birth to a massive 12-month-long-gestating thought artifact like that, there is bound to be some necessary recovery time involved. He may be difficult to understand for a while as he puts the pieces of his psyche back together again. Using mental duct tape for such things takes time and patience.
The novel is called Recipes for Gingerbread Children. If that arouses curiosity in you (a condition that I also hope is not fatal… You are not a cat, are you?), there are instances of rants and delusional spoutings about this story to be found in recent posts on this blog. Unfortunately, it will not be published immediately. You will have to wait to actually read it until I or my heirs eventually get it published… by whatever means necessary (though I have my doubts about the plan involving kidnapped alien slaves and mimeograph machines.)
The novel I do have nearing publication is Magical Miss Morgan. I recently submitted approval for final edits to my project manager for Page Publishing. Since I am investing my own money in this publication project, I am expecting that it will get published before 2017 is done. I will continue to relentlessly plug the thing here.
Page Publishing is a less expensive and less professional publisher than I-Universe that did Catch a Falling Star for me. If you are reading this for ideas about pursuing publication yourself, I would recommend the more expensive publisher first, due to the quality of their professional editors, though I intend to continue publishing my books with less expensive self-publishing options like Amazon from here on. As I finish the publishing process I am now involved in, I promise to complain about publishers and throw Mark-Twain-like insult fits in future blog posts. No one should have to repeat the egregious mistakes that Mickey has made.
Catch a Falling Star, the blog, will continue to be a blog about my artwork, my story-telling, my teacher memories, and my generally confusing and bombastic opinions about life, the universe, and everything… including pies. Mmm! Pies are good. You might even want to look at my essay on Gooseberry Pie.
In case you were not aware of it, this purple mouse-man is Mickey, and Mickey is the writer-spirit within me. Mickey is not actually me. You know how Mark Twain is not really a real person? The real person was Samuel Langhorn Clemens. Mickey is not a really real person either. Michael Beyer, cartoonist, writer, and former middle school teacher is the real person… if any former middle school teacher can ever be considered a real person.
I finished a novel rough draft today. But the end is not the hardest part to write. Well, this one was, but not because it was the end of the story. It was the part where a character you have carefully crafted over time, and really learned to love, has to die because that is simply how the story goes. It was not a sad death, or an unresolved death, as such. It was a fulfilled life of meaning and magic that simply came to its ending point. My own real-life story may come to an end sometime in near the future too, and I can only hope it is half as much a satisfying completion as this one was. And yet, my heart is sore from having written it.
The novel is called Recipes for Gingerbread Children. It is a story of a little old lady. She is alone in the world, except for the people in the little Iowa town where she is now living, especially the middle school age people who gather at her house to eat her gingerbread cookies and listen to her German fairy tales. She was also a concentration camp survivor, so this story has Nazis in it. Don’t worry though. They are dead Nazis. And there is a werewolf in it. But only a baby werewolf. Oh, and there are two twin teenage girls who are practicing nudists in it. But you probably aren’t worried about them. There are also fairies in it. She tells fairy stories, after all. And the whole book is more or less a collection of fairy stories. And there is a lot of magical gingerbread cookies.
But I had to write the “character dies” part that I knew was coming for about six months. It is the part that will make or break the story. It is the part I will most need to polish and rewrite. But the fact remains, the story ends with a death. So there is that. Life with gingerbread in it is also life that eventually comes to an end.
And that part of the story is always really, really hard to write.